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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mortgage Applications Slip W/W But Rise M/M
by Tom Moeller   October 5 2011

The index of total mortgage applications fell 4.3% last week to 734.0 (March 16, 1990 = 100). Despite the decline, applications rose slightly for the full month. Overall, applications have risen more-than 80% since their early-year low. The jump has come as lower interest rates spurred refinancing.

Applications to refinance have more-than doubled since April but they fell 5.2% last week. That's on the heels of double-digit increases during the prior two weeks. Weekly applications to purchase a home slipped 0.8% w/w. They're roughly 10% above the August low but still off almost two-thirds versus before the recession.

The effective rate on fixed-interest, conventional 15-year mortgages held near the record low at 3.60%. The effective rate on 30-year fixed rate loans fell to a new low of 4.31%. On a 30-year Jumbo the effective rate was 4.62%. Though it's narrowed slightly of late, the spread between 15- and 30-year loan rates continued wide by historical standards. The effective interest rate on an adjustable 5-year mortgage ticked up to 3.17% versus 3.65% at the beginning of the year.

The Mortgage Bankers Association surveys between 20 to 35 of the top lenders in the U.S. housing industry to derive its refinance, purchase and market indexes. The weekly survey covers roughly 50% of all U.S. residential mortgage applications processed each week by mortgage banks, commercial banks and thrifts. The figures for weekly mortgage applications are available in Haver's SURVEYW database.

MBA Mortgage Applications (SA, 3/16/90=100) 9/30/11 9/23/11 9/16/11 Y/Y % 2010 2009 2008
Total Market Index 734.9 767.9 702.7 -6.1 659.3 736.4 642.9
 Purchase 175.2 176.6 172.2 -11.8 199.8 263.5 345.4
 Refinancing 4,019.0 4,239.6 3,813.2 -3.9 3,348.1 3,509.2 2,394.1
15-Year Mortgage Effective Interest Rate (%) 3.60 3.58 3.57 4.15
4.39 4.85 5.88
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